On The Stolen Green Day Album That Led To ‘American Idiot,’ Which Just Turned 10

Senior Pop Culture Editor
09.22.14 16 Comments

Depending on how old you are, American Idiot is either Green Day’s best album, or the worst instance of a band selling out since the first Green Day sold out. The truth lies somewhere in the middle: the thematic punk-opera, which just turned 10 years old, is a step down from Nimrod, but there are some great f*cking songs on it. “Jesus of Suburbia” is nine minutes long, and it kicks ass for all of them.

American Idiot revitalized a band that was close to falling apart, even if the record before it, Warning, is about as underrated as they come, but did you know it wasn’t the album Green Day originally wanted to release? That would be Cigarettes and Valentines, the demos for which were stolen in 2003, so Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool had to start over from scratch. Things obviously turned out OK for them, as they’d not only sell 15 million copies of American Idiot but also stage a successful Broadway production, but still, the “quick-tempoed punk” Cigarettes and Valentines sounded really good. Well, “sounded,” because we’ve never heard the whole thing, only snippets of what might have been.

Billie Joe would later claim that the band wasn’t happy with the recordings, stating that they weren’t “maximum Green Day,” leading some fans to believe that the “tapes were stolen” story is a crafty bit of myth-making on the group’s part. Either way, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: the spoken-word section of “Holiday” ruins an otherwise good song.

Around The Web